One of my favorite things to see in a video game is user-generated content. That is, as long as it makes sense within the context of the game, of course. Allowing users to create and manipulate the game world opens up an endless world of possibilities. Admittedly, some of the created content will not be as good as what the developers put in the game, but sometimes users blow me away with their attention to detail and quality of design and mechanics.
Some games have done a less than stellar job of implementing user-generated content, and it ends up feeling like a throw-in afterthought. However, when a game gets it right and truly knocks it out of the park, it can be something special to behold. It can take a game that you might play for a few hours and extend it to something you can enjoy for years to come. The games on this list are examples of user-generated content done right, and I hope many more games follow along with them.
LittleBigPlanet is a simple platformer. You play as a little Sack Boy and jump around and do generic platforming things. If that was all the game consisted of, the game would have come out and been forgotten within months. People stood up and took notice because of the incredible creation tools implemented into the game. The tools were deep in their functionality, and simple in their execution. LittleBigPlanet is truly a testament to what a dedicated community of users can do when given the right tools.
ModNation Racers is quite similar to LittleBigPlanet, but with cart racing. Users can create their own carts, tracks and everything else with an incredibly intuitive interface that allows players to make complicated items with no technical skill required. Users simply need a little creativity, and the amazing tools do the rest.
Starcraft and Starcraft 2
Starcraft’s creation tools are more complicated than LittleBigPlanet or ModNation Racers, but the level of depth they offer is off the charts. Players have the ability to create almost anything their heart desires. Starcraft is obviously an RTS, but with the tools available, users were able to generate RPGs, tower defense games and more. Just remember you will not be booting up the Starcraft editor and creating anything good right away, you will have to learn the tools and put forth a little effort.
Minecraft is literally built around users generating content. What started as a small indie project exploded into a cultural phenomenon. It’s like the video game version of Legos. I will readily admit that Minecraft is not for me, and other than briefly checking it out, I have no interest in playing it. That being said, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge its greatness for user-generated content.
Spore graced this list because of its amazing creature creator. Users could build any kind of creature their heart desired. The game’s creation tools were so well implemented that they actually released a stand-alone product before the launch of the game, just to let users play around with the amazing tools. They maintain a level of depth that gives users a ton of options, while keeping a level of simplicity that a child can understand. If you love creating stuff, you should take a look at Spore.
Garry’s Mod makes full use of the Source engine’s capabilities and gives users the tools to create, well, anything. If you can think it, you can probably build it in Garry’s Mod. It is not necessarily easy to use, but it’s not built to be. It’s designed for people who want to take creating to another level, and it does it amazingly well.
For all you creative types, these are the games for you. If you love having a blank canvas and seeing your ideas come to life, these video games will bring a smile to your face. These developers figured out how to implement user-generated content the right way, and I love them for it.
What games do you think got user-generated content right? Let us know in the comments.